Monday, May 30, 2016

Rough Puff: Pinwheels

I wanted to re-visit the rough puff I previously made and show you what I ended up doing with it. This post will walk you through one of the easiest uses for a rough puff--the pinwheel cookie. In a post later this week I will show you how to make two different tarts.

But before we get to  that, I hope everyone relaxed and was able to spend time with loved ones this memorial day weekend.

I was lucky enough to spend the weekend in Palm Springs with 11 friends, including a few who I've now known for nearly 18 years (it makes me feel old to say that). It was such an amazing get away--we had a huge house to ourselves and did nothing but lounge around in the pool, and share wonderful food and drinks for two days straight. Pretty soon I will have a new post about one of the most impressive things I've ever made--a breakfast wellington wrapped in a new type of pastry. As a short preview, check out this compilation of pictures from the weekend that Google put together:

These pinwheel cookies are incredibly easy to make, and are so versatile I am not even going to give you a recipe. All you need for these wonderful cookies are the rough puff pastry from my last post and the fillings of you choice. In fact, you could even use frozen puff pastry for these . . . but they really are so much better with homemade dough. Just look at how beautiful it is:

In terms of the filling, let you imagination run wild. You can go savory. You can go sweet. You can even go modern and do a sweet/savory combination. Here are a few possible fillings that come to mind:

  • Sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and feta
  • Bacon and thinly sliced hard boiled eggs
  • Guava paste and a hard, salty cheese
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Salted dulce de leche
  • Thin layer of frangipane (will be further explored in a future post)
  • Chocolate chips and walnuts

The key thing with the filling is that you want to avoid it being too wet, otherwise your pastry will get soggy and will not puff up. In other words, you must avoid the dreaded soggy bottom. With ingredients like spinach, you want to pre-cook and drain very well. With ingredients like jam or dulce de leche, you want to use very small amounts to keep it from overloading the pastry.

For mine, I decided to do both sweet and savory. For savory, I used a really nice jamon serrano and an aged british cheddar. For the sweet, I went with the classic cinnamon and sugar (approximately 1 part cinnamon to 5 parts sugar, but adjust according to your tastes).

You want to start by rolling out your dough until it is about 1/8 of an inch. For me, this gave me two rectangles about 8 inches by 12 inches. You can make your rectangles bigger as long as you keep that basic ratio, but if you go too much bigger (or too much smaller) it gets really difficult to roll up correctly.

Then, you want to evenly spread your fillings into a really thin layer. For the cinnamon and sugar, I ended up suing about 5 tbsp sugar, and 1 tbsp cinnamon. For the savory, I did a single layer of jamon serrano and a thin layer of shredded cheese. When you spread out your filling, you want to leave a once inch border around the whole dough to prevent leakage and to make it easier to seal.

After spreading your filling, you want to roll each rectangle into a long cylinder. When you are about to finish rolling, spread some water on the long edge of the dough so that it seals itself as you finish rolling it. As you can see above, my sweet log was skinnier because the sugar layer is much thinner than the layer of jamon and cheese. After rolling up the dough, you want to chill it in your freezer for about 20 minutes or until firm.

Chilling and firming up the dough makes it much easier to cut. Once you remove them from the freezer, cut them into even disks about 1 to 1.5 inches wide. Lay these disks onto your cookie sheet (lined with parchment or silicon) and bake them at around 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (or until golden brown).

Both the size of  your pinwheels and the filling will affect the baking time and the temperature used. For super sugary filling, you might want to bake them for a little longer at 375 instead of 400. Either way, keep a close eye on them and take them out once the pastry has browned and puffed up.

Let cool and enjoy as a snack, or even as a breakfast with your orange juice or coffee. These are best consumed within hours of being made, but will last a day or two loosely covered on a cool counter.

Plus, you can freeze them after cutting them (and before baking them). Then you have a ready to bake snack anytime. Just throw them straight into a pre-heated oven, without defrosting, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

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Welcome to my blog, where you can join me as I revel in my love of food. Eating it, cooking it, baking it, watching it on TV and even learning about it. If it has to do with food, I am probably interested.

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